How Cable News Covered Planned Parenthood Shooter Admitting "I'm Guilty"

How Cable News Covered Planned Parenthood Shooter Admitting "I'm Guilty"

››› ››› BRENDAN KARET & SHARON KANN

Fox News and CNN virtually ignored reports that alleged Planned Parenthood shooter Robert L. Dear admitted "I'm guilty," and said "I'm a warrior for the babies" during his first courtroom appearance, where he is charged with killing three and wounding nine. A Media Matters analysis of MSNBC, CNN, and Fox News determined that Fox spent just 30 seconds covering Dear's statements--after leading the charge in frequently airing the phrase "baby parts," that the shooter reportedly used. CNN devoted less than 3 minutes of coverage to Dear's statements, while MSNBC spent over 21 minutes noting his admission of guilt and claim that he is "a warrior for the babies."

Alleged Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood Shooter Admits "I'm Guilty. There's No Trial...I'm A Warrior For The Babies" In First Court Appearance.

New York Times: Suspect in Colorado Planned Parenthood Rampage Declares "I'm Guilty'...'I'm A Warrior For The Babies" in Court. The New York Times reported on December 9 that Robert Dear, the accused shooter in the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood mass shooting, stated "I'm guilty. There's no trial... I'm a warrior for the babies" during his first court appearance. The New York Times additionally reported that Dear faces "179 felony counts, including first-degree murder, in the Nov. 27 shooting that killed three people and wounded nine." [The New York Times, 12/9/15]

AP: Prior To Attack, Accused Shooter "Asked At Least One Person..."For Directions" To Planned Parenthood Facility. On December 8, the Associated Press reported that according to law enforcement officials, prior attacking the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility Dear "asked at least one person in a nearby shopping center for directions to the facility before opening fire." The AP concluded this was the "clearest suggestion yet that he was targeting" the Planned Parenthood facility. [Associated Press, 12/8/15]

Shooting Suspect Reportedly Said "No More Baby Parts' In Reference To Planned Parenthood" During Questioning. On November 28, NBC News reported that Dear reportedly said "'no more baby parts' in reference to Planned Parenthood" during questioning, according to two law enforcement sources:

The day after a gunman killed three people and shot nine others at a Colorado Planned Parenthood office, officials tell NBC News a motive remains unclear, but say the suspect talked about politics and abortion.

Robert Lewis Dear, a North Carolina native who was living in a trailer in Colorado, made statements to police Friday at the scene of the Colorado Springs clinic and in interviews that law enforcement sources described as rantings.

In one statement, made after the suspect was taken in for questioning, Dear said "no more baby parts" in reference to Planned Parenthood, two law enforcement sources with knowledge of the case told NBC News. [NBC News, 11/28/15]

Fox News And CNN Virtually Ignored The Alleged Shooter's Admission Of Guilt And Court Statement That He Is "A Warrior For The Babies," While MSNBC Devoted Over 20 Minutes Of Coverage

How News Covers Guilt - Warrior For The Babies
Fox Devoted Just 30 Seconds To Coverage Of Dear's Court Statements.
Fox News spent just 30 seconds covering reports that Dear stated "I'm guilty. There's no trial ... I'm a warrior for babies" during his first court appearance, between 4 PM and 11 PM on December 9.

CNN Largely Ignored Robert Dear's Statements, Providing Just Over Two And A Half Minutes Of Coverage Across Seven Hours. CNN discussed Dear's statements for a total of two minutes and thirty-one seconds between 4 PM and 11 PM on December 9.

MSNBC Led Coverage, Providing Over 21 Minutes Of Discussion On Robert Dear's Statements. MSNBC discussed Dear's statements for 21 minutes and 25 seconds, over 13 separate segments, mentions or teases between 4 PM and 11 PM on December 9. 

Leading Up To The Attack, Fox News Led The Charge Among Cable News Networks In Frequently Airing The Phrases "Baby Parts" And "Parts Of Babies"

Cable News Networks Aired The Phrase "Baby Parts" Or "Parts Of Babies" 119 Times Between The Release Of The First CMP Video And The Attack On Planned Parenthood. In the time period between July 14, the date the first deceptively-edited Center for Medical Progress (CMP) video was released, and November 26, the day before the attack on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, Fox Business and CNBC aired the phrase "baby parts" or "parts of babies" 119 times. [Media Matters, 12/2/15]

Fox News Aired The Phrase "Baby Parts" Or "Parts Of Babies" More Than Any Other Cable News Network. Of the 119 mentions of the phrase "baby parts" or "parts of babies" across the cable news networks, Fox News led the field with 72 mentions spread out across 14 separate shows. Sean Hannity's show Hannity aired the most mentions of any program. Fox Business Network mentioned "baby parts" or "parts of babies" an additional 11 times. [Media Matters, 12/2/15]

"Baby Parts" And "Parts Of Babies" Phrases Were Aired On Other Cable News Networks 47 Times. Outside of Fox News, the other major cable networks aired the phrases "baby parts" and "parts of babies" 47 times. CNN aired the second most mentions of the phrases, with 28 mentions, most of them stemming from CNN's three hour long morning show New Day. Fox Business aired 11 mentions, MSNBC aired six, and CNBC aired two mentions of either phrase. [Media Matters, 12/2/15]

Anti-Abortion Activist Most Prevalent In Use Of Term "Baby Parts." Among individuals who used the phrases "baby parts" or "parts of babies" on cable news networks, CMP's founder David Daleiden -- the person behind the deceptive videos -- used the terms the most often. Daleiden appeared on CNN once and on Fox News five separate times, and used the term "baby parts" a total of 12 times. CNN's Chris Cuomo used the term the second-most frequently with nine mentions during CNN's New Day. CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson used the terminology six times, as did Fox Business host Stuart Varney. [Media Matters, 12/2/15]

Following The Attack, Fox News Repeatedly Denied That Anti-Choice Rhetoric Could Have Motivated Shooter, And Argued Planned Parenthood "Deserves Much Of The Harsh Criticism Directed Towards It"

Sean Hannity: Anti-Choice Rhetoric Should Not Be Blamed For Shooting Because "Pro-Life By Its Very Name Means You Are Pro-Life." During the November 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, host Sean Hannity denied that "negative, hateful speech" is to blame for the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado, claiming that it would be inappropriate to "blame a lunatic who goes out there on a crime spree" because "pro-life by its very name means you are pro-life":

SEAN HANNITY: While I was away, of course, we had this horrible shooting at this Planned Parenthood clinic. And if you believe the liberal media, this is all because of conservatives. Negative, hateful speech allowed this to happen. That's what the headline is in the New York Daily News today.

[...]

How do you blame a lunatic who goes out there on a crime spree and blame people that are pro-life for what this lunatic does? Pro-life by its very name means you are pro-life. You don't go around taking the lives of innocent people. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 11/30/15]

Bill O'Reilly: "Planned Parenthood Is In The Baby Body Parts Business, And Deserves Much Of The Harsh Criticism Directed Toward It." In the November 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly denied that "harsh criticism" of Planned Parenthood played a role in the shooting, citing the repeatedly-debunked claim that Planned Parenthood "is in the baby body parts business" to argue that the organization "deserves much of the harsh criticism directed toward it":

BILL O'REILLY: Planned Parenthood is in the baby body parts business, and deserves much of the harsh criticism directed toward it. The situation is reminiscent of the assassination in 2009 of Dr. George Tiller, a late term abortionist in Kansas. For $5,000 Tiller would terminate any pregnancy for any reason. He was nicknamed "Tiller the Baby Killer" by organizations who objected to his grizzly practice. I reported extensively on Tiller, and after he was assassinated by a named Scott Roeder, some far-left loons blamed me. The truth is, I reported accurately on Tiller, whose assistant was stripped of her medical license after the assassination. By the way, Roeder was given life in prison, a well-deserved sentence. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 11/30/15]

Fox's Andrea Tantaros: Violence Against Abortion Providers Not Systemic, Just "A Kook Here" And A "Kooky Pastor There." In a December 1 segment from The O'Reilly Factor, Fox's Andrea Tantaros disagreed with GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson who admitted there were "some pro-lifers who will say things like 'I can understand why someone might come into an abortion clinic and shoot it up,'" a sentiment he said was "over the top." In response, Tantaros asserted that the "guy who shot at the Planned Parenthood center" was merely "a kook," that anti-choice groups were largely peaceful, and that violence was just "a kook here" or "a kooky pastor there" (emphasis added):

BILL O'REILLY (HOST): There's a difference between very afraid and talking about violence. I don't know if Dr. Carson was in good territory there unless he can name people. Because if he said it to me I would have said give me a couple names, doctor, because what you are doing is demonizing a pro-life movement that is generally peaceful and has been for decades.

ANDREA TANTAROS: Bill, I think this was very foolish of him. The pro-life movement is driven to persuade. Their rhetoric is based on reality, on cold hard truth.

O'REILLY: There are kooks. There are people who go over the line.

TANTAROS: That's true. There is a kook here and there kooky pastor here and there. There is a guy who shot at the Planned Parenthood center. But, the pro-life movement has been peaceful.They lobby for legislation to educate. And you know what they tweak the conscience of Americans and it's working as you know, because polls don't support late term abortions.

O'REILLY: Overwhelmingly, I think Leslie would agree, the pro-life lobby has conducted itself in a very professional manner. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 12/1/15]

Fox Host Decried Planned Parenthood For "Politicizing" Deadly Clinic Shooting. On the November 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends First, co-host Heather Childers denounced Planned Parenthood for supposedly "politicizing tragedy," following reports that the alleged shooter had used the phrase "no more baby parts" in remarks made to police officers after he was taken into custody:

HEATHER CHILDERS (HOST): Politicizing tragedy, Planned Parenthood blaming GOP rhetoric for the deadly shooting. And now Republican presidential candidates are firing back.

[...]

JAMES ROSEN: The suspected gunman in the Planned Parenthood shootings is reported to have used the phrase "no more baby parts" when discussing his motivations for the attack, has given rise to competing charges from left and right about the climate surrounding the broader abortion debate and which side may be abusing the right of free speech. [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 11/30/15]

Methodology

Media Matters searched Nexis and internal video archives to analyze news coverage of the alleged shooter Robert Dear's statements on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, using the search terms "warrior for the babies" OR "planned parenthood" OR "Colorado shoot!" OR "wanted to seal" OR "protect the babies" OR "I am guilty" OR "there is no trial" from 4 P.M. EST through 11:00 P.M. EST on December 9. Media Matters did not include reruns in the time count of coverage.

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